$$ Incentives Fail To Motivate Workplace Health, But There’s Hope

by Karishma Roye

Accept it. When you’re at work, you’re often snacking mindlessly, barely getting off your chair (if you have a desk job). Going to the restroom is perhaps the most exercise you get. Add to that the number of coffee breaks, sugary treats, birthday cakes and, of course, the office body, and your work basically ends up being the place where all weight loss efforts come to an end (or get difficult).

Now, an estimated 58 percent of large employers have been trying to motivate their employees to shed weight with financial incentives—reduction in health premiums—owing to ObamaCare which provides them greater coverage, and also, of course, to minimize sick days. This prompted the University of Pennsylvania to conduct a study to see if paying employees to lose weight could in fact prove to be effective.

The Results
Of the 197 overweight participants who were placed in a workplace wellness program that offered an incentive of $500 to lose five percent of their baseline weight, none proved successful.

Anti-climatic? In fact, they all seemed to lose less than 2lb in a year, because apparently money can buy a lot of things but not motivate one to shed the  pounds.

While the researchers continue to explore the subject and suggest trying different approaches like increased incentive or regret messages, there are some workplace wellness methods we’ve employed of our own here at Z Living.

Promoting The Fitness Culture In The Z Living Office

  • We Serve Up Better Snacking Options In The Pantry: Offices must do away with vending machines in break rooms, and perhaps install dispensers that are filled with nuts and light-bites. Having a cart with fresh fruits is also a good idea. Each member of the team can take ownership of restocking the fruits in rotation. The cafeteria serves up fresh juices and made-to-order food whenever possible (in order to keep things nutritious).
  • Office Sporting Activities: Offsite visits or even monthly sports tournaments are a great way to encourage physical activity. Besides the change of scenery, office outings promote healthy camaraderie, as well as make for a great way to break the ice and stay fit.
  • Recreation Rooms: Try installing ping pong, pool or foosball tables, steppers (if you don’t have an office gym), and a monkey bar if space permits.

If both parties (the employer and the employee) share the burden of workplace wellness, then the chances of employees actually staying active and mobile are far better. Perhaps a monetary reward won’t cut it; but maybe if it’s packaged subliminally in fun activities, workers might feel more inclined.

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